I found PhD study to be a stimulating, challenging and ideal conduit for exploring knowledge via discussion, argument and defence: to have the opportunity to explore method, methodology, epistemology, ontology and what may constitute 'acceptable' research practice is an enriching experience. I had previously heard of intepretivists decrying positivists et cetera, but I was unprepared to find quantitative researchers and lecturers openly dismissing qualitative approaches, and finding dismissals by qualitative researchers of the use of a quantitative approach: such are disappointing and confusing to a trainee researcher. Thus, a far less enriching experience for a trainee researcher is being faced with assumptions and preferences of experienced researchers that extend from defending approach to decrying any approaches that may not be aligned to their own. As a result, this paper will focus upon the quantitative-qualitative debate (QQD) and offer a critical evaluation upon the issues surrounding affiliations between method and epistemological paradigm. It will also question the validity of 'traditional' divides between qualitative and quantitative methods. This discussion will facilitate an answer to the question: 'can the researcher complement quantitative with qualitative method - and vice versa - within the same research paradigm and subsequent design'? I will explore here a claim that no more than a rhetorical link exists between method and epistemology and that the 'distinctions' between quantitative and qualitative methods are often erroneous and do not always reflect differing paradigmatic assumptions. Further, I will suggest quantitative and qualitative methods be used in a complementary fashion as opposed to an integrated approach. I will further claim that the quantitative-qualitative debate has much to offer trainee researchers and should thus be kept open, as long as unprejudiced and tolerant discussion is encouraged.
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Recommended APA Citation
Roberts, A. (2002). A Principled Complementarity of Method: In Defence of Methodological Eclecticism and the Qualitative-Quantitative Debate. The Qualitative Report, 7(3), 1-18. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol7/iss3/8